Ireland: the "Second Republic"?
France has had five - republics, I mean. But a man wandered up to me on Merrion Street tonight and announced to me: "this is the start of Ireland's Second Republic - as fundamental a transition as between British rule and independence".
My own personal rule in journalism is: if the same astonishing proposition comes up twice in a bar-room conversation within a few days, start thinking about reporting on it. So it is with Ireland's "Second Republic" because it has already, indeed, come up in casual conversations today, and more than once.
The essential proposition is: the IMF/EC bailout is such a profound indictment of Ireland's political class that "the whole thing will have to go". The whole system of patronage that urban/modern Irish people were slightly embarrassed about during the boom but which seemed harmless/tolerable.
The people pushing the Second Republic idea are uniformly involved in the digital economy, international in view, young, modern. I've met a property guy, an IT company guy and a blogger who all spontaneously talked to me about the Second Republic.
UPDATE 23/11/10: I've found a bulletin board set up on 18 November called 2nd-republic.ie. That seems to be where the discussion started during this phase of the crisis.
CONTINUES: However the limits to the French parallel are this: there was only one peaceful transition from republique to republique - in 1958, and it was not pretty. The others were as a result of republican government being reborn after a period of monarchism (1830, 1848, 1870) or fascism (1944).
I get the drift though. I have spent the past 24 hours listening to Irish people saying they just don't trust the political class or the political system, and they would prefer the IMF because "at least you don't have to vote for them": they usually have no overwhelming social issue, apart from the obvious austerity which many see as inevitable - there is instead a political disillusionment, a disillusionment with institutional arrangements which I can report extends also to the media.
Please pile into the comments and let me know what you think.